Anybody using git to manage text document revisions might benefit from this. I keep all of my research papers in git. I also collaborate on paper writing fairly often, and I may want to see the difference between two revisions.

My first solution looked like this:

git diff --word-diff commit1 commit2

This works, but long lines—which are very common in text documents—run off the edge of the terminal window. On Linux and Mac, the default pager for viewing diffs is less, and its stock viewing mode leaves something to be desired. I would like the long lines to be wrapped.

My next attempt was as follows:

git diff --word-diff commit1 commit2 | fmt

This version solved the line-wrapping problem, but the result was ugly and difficult to scan. git and fmt don’t play well together. If possible, I would like the changes to be color-coded rather than delineated by some ugly text scheme. Although git’s support for color highlighting works better for code than long-form text, it’s usually good enough that you can work out what changed.

Version 3:

git config core.pager 'less -+$LESS -FRX'

git diff --word-diff=color commit1 commit2

Bingo: lines wrap properly, changes are color-coded, and no junk text is introduced by incompatible tools. If you want to use the same pager settings across all of your git repositories, add the “–global” flag to the first command.